‘Blood and fire’ in France: Battles on the streets of Paris as riot cops charge pension protesters amid country’s biggest security operation in recent history
- Riots have engulfed France since President Emmanuel Macron forced the retirement age rise without a vote
- Unrest and violence caused a state visit by King Charles to be cancelled last week because of safety concerns
Anti-government rioters brought ‘fire and blood’ to the streets of France today – days after a state visit by King Charles was cancelled because of the violence.
Up to a million people joined Tuesday’s marches against President Emmanuel Macron raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote.
Ones in cities including Paris and Nantes erupted into violence with gangs involved in running battles with the police.
‘Radicalised elements from the Left and the Ultra-Left want to hijack the trade union processions,’ said Gerald Darmanin, France’s Interior Minister.
‘Their aim is to bring fire and blood to France,’ he added, saying that 13,000 police and gendarmes were mobilised, including 5,500 in Paris alone.
Anti-government rioters brought ‘fire and blood’ to the streets of France today. Pictured: Riot police charge pension protesters in Paris
The protests have intensified since the government used special constitutional powers to bypass parliament on a final vote on the pensions bill almost two weeks ago
The most recent protests come days after a state visit by King Charles was cancelled because of the violence in Paris. Pictured: A protester throws a stone as he stands amid tear gas
Gerald Darmanin, France’s Interior Minister, said 13,000 police and gendarmes were mobilised, including 5,500 in Paris alone. Pictured: A protester clashes with an officer
They were supported by armoured cars, water cannon, and military units in reserve.
Dozens of fires were lit around Nation square in Paris, after an authorised march finished in the mid-afternoon.
Paramilitary units responded with tear gas rounds and baton charges, in an attempt to hold back a huge group.
The most feared group was the Black Bloc – an alliance of anarchists from all over Europe.
King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, were meant to be in Bordeaux today, as part of a four-day state visit to France, but it was dramatically halted on Friday.
Attacks included an attempt to burn down the City Hall in the south west city, where unions had pledged to barrack the Royal couple.
The protest movement is the biggest domestic crisis of Macron’s second term, with the strikes on Tuesday also affecting refineries, bin collections, rail transport, air travel and schools.
The Louvre museum in Paris was blocked by strikers, while pickets continued at petrol depots and waste incinerators, particularly surrounding the capital, where 10,000 tonnes of rubbish are still piling up.
Students held a banner in front of a raging fire on the tenth day of nationwide strikes today as unrest grows across the country
Protesters have taken to the streets in their numbers as President Macron faces major backlash over his pension reforms
Dozens of fires were lit around Nation Square in Paris, after an authorised march finished in the mid-afternoon
One banner held aloft by a protester dressed as a Gaul read, ‘Macron declared war on the people’ after the president raised the retirement age without a parliamentary vote
The crisis has intensified as lawyers complain of excess violence and arbitrary arrests by squads of paramilitary police.
A 30-year-old man was fighting for his life in a coma on Tuesday after being repeatedly hit over the head with a police truncheon during a riot at the weekend.
In turn, Mr Darmanin said ‘many police officers have been severely injured’ during the protests.
Despite the violence and industrial paralysis, Mr Macron and his prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said there was no chance of a climb down from flagship pensions reform.
‘We have to find the right path,’ said Ms Borne ‘We need to calm down’.
A protester jumps over a raging fire during a rally in Paris today as France battle’s with an ongoing national strike against Macron’s pension reforms
Some protesters wore masks as Paris was set ablaze in a furious response to Macron trying to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64
A lone protester stands in front of French riot police as fireworks explode behind them during a rally attended by up to a million people
Thousands of protesters are seen marching through the streets of Paris this month. Public frustration has evolved into broader anti-Macron sentiment.
Millions of people have been demonstrating, largely peacefully, and joining strike action since mid-January. Pictured: A riot police officer is struck by a firework in Paris last week
But Laurent Berger, the head of the moderate CFDT union, said the protests would continue until there was a U-turn.
Millions of people have been demonstrating, largely peacefully, and joining strike action since mid-January to show their opposition to Macron’s plans to make most of them work an extra two years to 64.
But public frustration has evolved into broader anti-Macron sentiment.
The protests have intensified since the government used special constitutional powers to bypass parliament on a final vote on the pensions bill almost two weeks ago, bringing scenes of chaos reminiscent of unrest by supporters of the yellow-vest movement during Macron’s first term as president.
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